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April 15, 2024

School Board recognizes Positive Academic Growth

WEST ALEXANDER MIDDLE SCHOOL RECOGNIZED FOR TEST SCORES — West Alexander Middle School was recognized for exceeding growth on end of grade testing for the 2022-2023 school year. Pictured here are administrators from last year and this year, left to right: former West Assistant Principal Jessica Mundy, current West Instructional Coach Heather Houston, former West Principal Katie Nash, current West Principal Ashley Mayo, and Board of Education member Scott Bowman.


The Alexander County Board of Education met on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. The meeting had been delayed a week due to inclement weather on January 9.

Several schools in Alexander County were recognized for their Positive Academic Growth for the 2022-2023 school year. Alexander Early College (AEC) was recognized twice, one for exceeding academic growth with a letter grade of A (given by the state), and the other for having a 100% graduation rate in 2023. Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner noted that every student at AEC graduated with an Associate’s Degree last year and 17 students graduated with two Associate’s Degrees.

West Alexander Middle School was also recognized for exceeding academic growth for the 2022-2023 school year with a letter grade of B.

Five schools were recognized for meeting academic growth for the 2022-2023 school year: Alexander Central High School with a letter grade of B, Bethlehem Elementary School, also with a letter grade of B, Stony Point Elementary School with a letter grade of C, Sugar Loaf Elementary School with a letter grade of B, and Wittenburg Elementary School with a letter grade of C.

RECOGNIZED FOR MEETING EXPECTED GROWTH — Five schools were recognized for meeting expected growth for the 2023-2024 school year. Representing those schools pictured, left to right, are: Jessica Mundy, current Principal of Stony Point Elementary, Andy Palmer, former Principal of Stony Point, Charles Draper, Principal of Bethlehem Elementary, Josh Lail, Principal of Alexander Central High School, Joe Mabry, Principal of Sugar Loaf Elementary, and Board Member Scott Bowman. Not pictured: Principal Melinda Glenn of Wittenburg Elementary.

January is School Board Appreciation Month so Dr. Hefner took a moment to recognize the seven current board members: Josh Dagenhart, Brigette Rhyne, Board Chairman Rob Arguelles, Board Vice-Chairman Matthew Reese, Scott Bowman, Ramie Robinson, and Anthony McLain (not present). Dr. Hefner said, “I want to extend my appreciation to all of you.” She said their work will impact the students of Alexander County for years to come. The board members were gifted ACHS shirts and toboggans, cards from students, homemade fudge, and several other gifts from each school.

BOARD OF EDUCATION HONORED — January is School Board Appreciation Month.
Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner took time to recognize and thank the current board members. Pictured, left to right, are: Josh Dagenhart, Brigette Rhyne, Board Chairman Rob Arguelles, Board Vice-Chairman Matthew Reese, Scott Bowman, and Ramie Robinson. Not pictured: member Anthony McLain.

Mandy Weisend, Exceptional Children’s (EC) Teacher at Wittenburg Elementary School, was recognized as the Alexander County EC Educator of Excellence. Dr. Hefner said Melinda Glenn, Mandy’s principal, had this to say about her: “She has the unique ability to connect with each and every one of her students.”

Principal Andy Palmer gave an update on his school, Taylorsville Elementary. Palmer made a point to highlight the work of Taylorsville’s teacher assistants and interventionists who help students daily. He said part of the Taylorsville school pledge that is recited routinely is, “I promise to do what is right even when no one else is looking.” Palmer also stated the three main School Improvement Team goals for Taylorsville Elementary, which are: “to increase overall attendance to 95%, which was the pre-Covid average, to decrease minor and major behavior incidents by 5%, and to have each student make an adequate year’s growth as measured by End of Grade and iReady standardized assessments.” Palmer thanked all those responsible for helping to secure their School Resource Officer, Dylan Adams, and his police dog, Otter. He said the students and staff love Otter very much and they are all thankful for Officer Adams’ presence on campus.

Liz Cronan, the Instructional Coach at Taylorsville, helped the students participate in a Popsicle contest by using Popsicle sticks to build structures. Palmer reported that Taylorsville won $1,000 in the contest and are now eligible to move to the next level with the potential to win $20,000.

In her Superintendent’s Report (see graphic below), Dr. Hefner noted that school enrollment was down from 4,269 in November to 4,244 in December, which is a loss of 25 students. She said this is typical for this time of year and hopes to see new students enrolled in the new semester. She also noted that there have been five SLAP (suicide related) assessments and four threat assessments in the district for the month. Attendance has been an issue for students and staff due to the outbreak of flu A, but there should be an increase in attendance as flu season passes. Hefner is in the process of getting capacity numbers for each school from an architectural firm as the district makes budget decisions moving forward.

She was excited to announce that 407 parent surveys have been collected for interest in the Family Academy and 202 staff responses have been collected.

EARLY COLLEGE EXCEEDING GROWTH — Alexander Early College was recognized twice at the January School Board meeting, once for exceeding Academic Growth and once for a 100% graduation rate for the 2022-2023 school year. Pictured here from AEC are Margie Markham and Principal Mary Brown with Board Member Scott Bowman.

Chief Financial Officer Sharon Mehaffey brought forth board policy number 6315-Drivers after a third reading for approval and it passed unanimously. She also brought forth Policy No. 4040/7310 – Staff-Student Relations, Policy No. 4110 – Immunization and Health Requirements for School Admission, and Policy No. 4240/7312 – Child Abuse and Related Threats to Child Safety for first readings and review. The board meeting then moved into closed session.

The next board meeting will be Tuesday, February 13, at 6 p.m.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT — Alexander County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner released this new format to report pertinent school data at a glance. This is the most recent data, for December 2023. (Editor’s Note: Items in red added for clarity.)


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